Media. Cultural Studies. Writing.



Author Archives: michaelddwyer

Protected: Fifties Nostalgia, Hollywood Soundtracks

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Negative Dunkalectics

My first piece for Negative Dunkalectics went up today. It’s about grief, my dad, and the 2012 Boston Celtics, but mostly it’s about how we use sports to understand our lives. Or about how I do, anyway. Give it a read if you have a moment. It’s called “On Windows Closing”

Photo by Keith Allison, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

It is a strange time to be a Celtics fan. Rajon Rondo is one of the most uniquely talented and uniquely limited players in the NBA. Ray Allen’s jump shot remains staggeringly beautiful, and the work he does running off screens remains astounding. Paul Pierce still has an array of stepbacks, upfakes and pull-up shots from the elbow. And Garnett remains the quarterback of the team’s strong defense, calling out switches, stepping out on pick and rolls and grabbing seven or eight rebounds a game. In short, the Celtics

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Read this Book: Girls to the Front


I’ve  started and re-started this post six times already, trying to come up with an intriguing angle on Girls to the Front, the book by Sara Marcus that occupied the coveted “first-book-Michael-will-read-after-the-school-year-ends” for 2010-2011. For the seventh attempt at writing this entry, I’m going to try a simpler approach. Read this book. Trust on this.

More after the jump.…

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The Beastie Boys Revisit, Revise, the 1980s

Fight for Your Right, Revisited (2011)

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about The Beastie Boys lately, and not because they’ve been one of my favorite bands (Licensed to Ill was one of the first two albums I purchased with my own money–six year old Mikey Dwyer picked it up on cassette from a Massachusetts record store in early 1987, along with the soundtrack to Top Gun). And it’s not just because the run-up to their latest album, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2, has utilized new media services and transmedia promotion with a sophistication and savviness not ordinarily associated with the major record labels. And it’s not because the album is, by the way, totally fresh. I mean, it is because of those things, and there are lots of worthwhile reads on those subjects. But it’s also because the promotion for this album has also featured the …

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The Academic Job Market: One Year Later.

Emo Spring!

One year ago today, I had given up hope.

Every Sunday in the summer of 2009 my partner and I went to a small donut shop in East Syracuse, ordered two donuts, and took a booth in the corner. Millworkers came in to buy coffee and lotto tickets. We worked on research statements and teaching philosophies. In late September we hung a map of the United States on the wall of our Syracuse apartment, and began to stick a pin in the map for every appropriate job listing we could find. By November there were 90 pins stuck in the map, color coded for tenure-track, visiting, and post-doc positions that each of us had applied to.…

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The 2010 Mixtape

In February of 2010, The Mr. Roboto Project closed its doors, with no definite plans to reopen. Its closing left a considerable void for DIY arts and culture in pgh and the rust belt.  Make no mistake, DIY music has and will continue to thrive without Roboto, but for everyone that attended a meeting, put on a show, saw bands or met friends there, Roboto was something special.  It’s easy to be cynical about being young, punk community, DIY ethics and aesthetics, but Roboto worked. It just did. The first time I walked into Roboto, it felt like possibility. It never stopped feeling that way to me, or to many of the dear, dear friends I made there.

Personally, Roboto’s closing was another reminder of my changing relationship to music. During last year’s All Songs Considered Year in Review show, renaissance woman (and my perma-crush) Carrie Brownstein argued that music …

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Future Heads in Media Studies

The October issue of PMLA, the official publication of the Modern Language Association, was among my favorite reads of the year. The special issue on “Literary Criticism for the Twenty-First Century,” however, has held top-of-the-coffee-table status for three strong months now.  One of the reasons why, aside from the general quality of the scholarship,  is what Jonathan Culler calls in the introductory essay “a motif of return.” One of my major research areas is the function of nostalgia–the much-maligned practice of mournfully looking backward that, in my work, I argue can be utilized for diverse and overlapping purposes. Far from being ahistorical, I argue elsewhere, nostalgia tells us about our affective relationships, which are always historical relationships.

It’s perhaps natural that literary studies would get a little nostalgic. Literature and literary scholarship are fascinated with the past. The discipline itself is derived from the tradition of the scribes charged …

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Blue Valentine: Some Feelings Not Suitable for Minors

 

Stop them before they smooch again!

If you have heard anything at all about Blue Valentine, you’ve likely heard about its controversial NC-17 rating. The film’s rating had film blogs abuzz when the rating was issued a few months ago, particularly after it was announced that the rating would be appealed by the film’s distributor, The Weinstein Company (UPDATE: the rating was eventually overturned). Indeed, when the film played on the first full night of the 2010 Philadelphia Film Festival, the question of whether the rating was or was not deserved dominated discussions before and after the film’s screening.

This is a shame, because Blue Valentine deserves discussion on its own merits. The film, which juxtaposes the first exhilarating days of a relationship with the excruciating death throes of a marriage a handful of years later, benefits from tremendous performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams,who …

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